600 People Face Tuberculosis Threat After Being Exposed to Infected Health Care Worker

Health officials are notifying people in three Michigan counties that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease, through a health care worker.

The worker may have had contact with more than 600 people while working in three facilities — two hospitals and a senior rehabilitation and long-term care facility — in Oakland, Livingston and Washtenaw counties between May 1, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The worker was only recently diagnosed, officials said. The person is receiving treatment and no longer working.

Blood tests and medical treatment are being offered and provided as necessary by St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals to affected patients and staff who were learned they may have been exposed, officials said.

And in Oakland County, South Lyon Senior Care and Rehab has provided testing to all current staff and patients. Former staff members and patients who are notified by the facility about potential exposure are can contact their own physicians or county health department for testing.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a treatable, yet potentially serious, bacterial disease that is spread through the air. The bacteria usually grow in the lungs but can attack any part of the body.

There are two forms of TB: An infection, where people have the bacteria in their bodies but are not sick, and the disease, where the bacteria multiply and cause people to become sick.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Brandon Patterson and Ann Zaniewski